You’re doing just fine

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

It’s been a long year, full of new and unusual medical procedures. I will admit that I’m becoming a little jaded about the miracles of modern medicine, since some of those miracles come from really uncomfortable moments.

In this year, I have had x-rays (and don’t tell me they are no problem…ever had a mammograms?). I have also experienced an MRI, which in itself wasn’t too bad because I didn’t have to use that machine where they slide you in a little hole like a loaf of bread in the oven. My objection to the MRI involves the noise, which had all the volume and soothing effect of a jackhammer being operated right by your ear.

Add to that spinal injections,, ultra-sounds and physical therapy sessions to work out the many muscle knots that were tied while I was undergoing these treatments. And in case I hadn’t scheduled myself for enough fun, this is the year I decided that I should have an implant put into my mouth just to give me enough teeth to chew with! It’s been interesting to say the least!

This month, I decided to have a little fun with something called a thyroid biopsy. This is a procedure where they basically put you head down, feet elevated and draw fluid from the thyroid with needles. I was so stupid, I thought you went down the throat to get at the thyroid, but I quickly found out that they had to put needles in the one place I had probably never had them before–my exposed neck! I had a bit of an idea how Anne Boleyn felt at the block!

I truly admire medical personnel and I feel for all they have been through and what they have to go through to help people to get well and remain well. But sometimes I wonder if they forget that the body they are working on isn’t as used to the procedures as they are.

For instance, when you are in a chair that is tilted so that your head is pointed to the floor and your feet are sticking in the air, and you are about to have a needle thrust into your neck it is useless for a medical professional to tell you to “breath normally.” If I can breathe at all, I’m lucky! They also instruct you to “not swallow.” Of course, as soon as they say that, all I can think about doing is swallowing!

When you are lying face-down on a table while they prepare to stick a needle directly in your spine, the instructions “don’t move,” and “relax” are counterproductive. I can manage the don’t move thing (although I really want to) but as for the relax part–forget it!

I think the phrase I am most resentful of during a medical procedure is “you’re doing just fine.” In most cases, I am in such a position that I’m not doing anything at all–except maybe silently screaming! In a dentist’s chair, having a post screwed into my jawbone or standing in front of a mammogram machine, so squished and positioned that I am forced to balance on tiptoe, the last thing that comes to mind is “fine”.

I understand the necessity of medical tests, but since they scare me more than a horde of Viking raiders, I am less than sympathetic to any attempt to make me “feel better.” I just want them to get finished, don’t stop in the middle to tell me I’m “doing fine.”

Because I am both terrified of all these medical tests and frustrated with the meaningless instructions to “breathe normally” and “relax,” I have developed a comeback that frequently causes them to pause a little. After the dentist told me I was “doing just fine,” I got around dental equipment, fingers in my mouth and a Novocain fat lip to reply, “so are you.” That stopped him in his tracks for a minute and in spite of the grinding he as doing on my jaw, I felt like I won one.

When the fellow about to give me a spinal injection told me to “not move,” I replied, “Don’t worry, I like where I am.” It got very quiet and I felt triumphant. During my last appointment with my biopsy test where I was told to “breath normally” I replied, “define normal.” She was so startled, she actually launched into a definition of the word.

So beware, medical community, I have decided the only way to deal with you is to use my smart mouth. And just for the record, I really am “doing fine.”

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